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On CAR Rapes, ICP Asks UN What Ban Did After He Knew, UN Private Email

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 2 -- French soldiers in the Central African Republic allegedly sexually abused children, as exposed in a UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report leaked to the French government by longtime OHCHR staffer Anders Kompass.

  The UN did not, however, give the report to the host country authorities in CAR. And according to UN documents -- on May 29 released in more detail by Code Blue naming Ladsous directly, here -- UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous then urged that the whistleblower Kompass be forced to resign.

  The documents also implicate a number of other UN officials, and French government inaction, see below. UN staff advocates have written to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his chief of staff and Ladsous, among others, demanding resignations. On June 2 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who Banned any Inner City Press question to Ladsous on May 29, what Ban Ki-moon DID, once he learned in March about the rapes. Video here and embedded below.

 Dujarric said he had nothing to add to his previous answers. Huh?

 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, in light of OHCHR Zeid using a private email address for UN business, what the UN's record retention policy is. Dujarric said the policy must be available somewhere. To this has the UN descended.

  Dujarric said the investigation by Lapointe's OIOS, discredited in the leaked emails, will "lead where it will lead." But Lapointe has told OIOS invstigators to not go beyond what they are asked to look at -- in this case, only the whistleblower. This is called a cover up.

On June 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: this is about the alleged sexual abuse in the Central African Republic.  I’ve seen an email from the staff union to the Secretary-General and other high officials saying that the now leaked documents concerning OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] and the Ethics Office being directed by Ms. [Susana] Malcorra to meet with Prince Zeid and his deputy call into question the entire protection of whistle-blowers and… by the Ethics Office and asking basically for resignations of a number of officials.  I wanted to confirm that the Secretary-General has gotten it.  I'd like to know what he thought of it.  And I wanted to return to what was said on Friday, that the Secretary-General knew “in the spring” of the alleged sexual abuse since… given the gravity of the charges, when did he know?  And what did he do when he became aware of it and was it in turn in March?  And what steps did he take after he learned of these extremely troubling charges?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we've actually talked about what the Secretary-General and the UN system have done.  That's been the case of the briefings that we've had in the past month or so.  As you're aware, part of that response has been to make sure that we know what happened to the documents, that we're aware of follow-up.  Some of the follow-up, as you know, is happening from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as I just said a few minutes ago, in terms of looking at any additional problems or charges that may be out there.  Some of that is to make sure that the French authorities did follow up, which they are doing with the information that they got from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  And then some of this, as you know, is part of an investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services.  Regarding your initial question, of course, the Secretary-General has full confidence in the work of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and we trust it will proceed.

Inner City Press:  Given that, often from this podium, you point to OIOS and you say they're independent; we can't answer for them; they're investigating; they're totally independent, how can you explain Susana Malcorra, the Chief of Staff of Ban Ki-moon, summoning the head of OIOS and the head of the Ethics Office to meet what many people say to basically go after Mr. [Anders] Kompass, the whistle-blower?  How independent is it if Ms. Malcorra can tell them who to meet with?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that's a mischaracterization of what happened.  Part of what needs to happen when people are dealing with any sort of situation is to understand which office needs to handle it, whether it's a case for the Ethics Office to follow up or whether it's a case for the Office of Internal Oversight Services to follow up.  That's a sample managerial decision of trying to figure out where a case belongs and that was — as far as I'm aware from the Office of Internal Oversight Services, that's what their issue.

Inner City Press:  What the staff union is asking is:  why would any staff member go to the Ethics Office with a complaint of retaliation if it's clear that the Ethics Office immediately meets with the high officials being complained of?  And they're saying… the final thing I want to ask is that the US law that triggers the cut of funding for failure to protect whistle-blowers may well be triggered by that e-mail.  That's why I'm asking for your response.

Deputy Spokesman:  As we said at the start, this is not regarded as a case necessarily of whistle-blowing.  That is something where I… you know, we're perfectly willing to see what the system itself says about this, but whistle-blowing is not just any act of disclosing a document.  There's a certain… there's a certain standard set of procedures, and we'll have to see whether this applies in this case or not.  But, certainly, there are whistle-blower protections put in place.  There is an office, the Ethics Office, that can be relied on this.  I don't think it's particularly helpful to look at this one case as an example of the system as a whole, because the system… every case has its unique attributes, and this is certainly a case that does have its unique attributes, and it may not qualify as a whistle-blowing case.  I think we need to have an open mind about how that proceeds.  Yes?

Question:  On the same issue, did I get that right that Ban Ki-moon heard about this case in March of this year?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe we were aware of this in March, in the spring, yes.

Question:  You believe or you know?

Deputy Spokesman:  I… this is what I… this is what I… you know, this is what the officials in his office knew, in March of this year.  And that's certainly the chronology that I have of it.

  We'll have more on this.

Many are asking why UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid, while emailing with the UN Ethics Office and OIOS, was using a private Gmail address, and not his work account.

 When Hillary Clinton used the UN Security Council stakeout to belatedly answer questions about her own use of private email while US Secretary of State, it was described as an accident of scheduling, or attempt to use the UNSC backdrop to convey gravitas. But the echo now with Prince Zeid also using private email for presumably public business raises similar questions.

  But will the questions be asked, much less answered? Reuters, typically, ran a piece on May 30 repeating Zeid's press release, with little analysis of his role, or use of private email, or Herve Ladsous, who has now been emailed staff advocates' call for resignations.

  Anders Kompass was asked to send his side of the story -- to a private email address, but wisely declined.

Beyond the treatment of Kompass himself, the documents show pressure brought to bear on lower-level staff to make and thereby launder the high officials' desire for an investigation of Kompass.

  Most directly, it is asked, what UN staff member will now report fraud or misconduct, knowing that OIOS and the Ethics Office will then discuss the accusations with their boss? This is a question Inner City Press on May 29 asked UN Spokesman Staphen Dujarric, who Banned Inner City Press from putting a single question to Ladsous - the question has yet to be answered.

    UN staff advocates have written directly to Ban Ki-moon and his deputy, Ladsous and Atul Khare and others, demanding resignations. They are offended by the exposure of lack of independence at the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services and UN Ethics Office, and question whether the US should cut off funding under the

"2014 U.S. Consolidated Appropriation Act. That Act, which contains the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, states that 15% of funds appropriated for contribution to the United Nations or its agencies “may not be obligated for such organization or agency until the Secretary of State reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the organization or agency is … implementing best practicesfor the protection of whistle-blowers from retaliation.” Section 7048(a)(1)(B). The Act also states that the organization / agency’s policies must include “(i) protection against retaliation for internal and lawful public disclosures; (ii) legal burdens of proof; (iii) statutes of limitation for reporting retaliation; (iv) access to independent adjudicative bodies, including external arbitration; and (v) results that eliminate the effects of proven retaliation.” After reading those leaked documents, how exactly can the U.S. Secretary of State (or anybody else) certify that the UN's whistle-blower policy fulfils the Act's requirements? Is there any "independent adjudicative body" in this chain? Evidently the Ethics Office and OIOS are not."

  How will Ban Ki-moon respond? Other UN staff advocates will be chiming in, and we will be covering all of it. The staff notice Ban's appearance at another softball soccer game, among those who are supposed to hold him and the UN accountable. The call for Ladsous to resign out be fired has spread from the African Group to Latin America and GRULAC. Watch this site.

On May 30, OHCHR for Prince Zeid issued a statement beginning, "In the wake of the revelations of alleged serious sexual abuse of children."

  But Zeid was told of the allegations long before their "revelation" via leaks. And tellingly, he continued to mistakenly think and say the rapes were in Mali and not CAR.

 Likewise, both UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous -- listed as urging the whistleblower to resign, which he denies while refusing to take questions on -- and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon both knew of the alleged child rapes by "the Spring," but did nothing.

  This requires an investigation, and not by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, shown to not be independent, told to meet Zeid and the UN Ethics Office by Ban's chief of staff Susan Malcorra.

  Zeid also cites the "International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic, which reported on a range of violations by international forces in December 2014." As Inner City Press reported and asked in January 2015, that report at least mentioned abuses by Ladsous' MINUSCA and the French Sangaris force for whom he covered up (by contrast Human Rights Watch, notably quiet on this scandal, Ban Ki-moon and Ladsous) blamed only the African Union, click here for that.

  As to Zeid, he needs to explain several "revelations" in the document he filed with the UN Dispute Tribunal, on which we will have more.

  Inner City Press reported on some of the documents and went to Ladsous' rare press conference on May 29 (International Day of UN Peacekeepers) in order to ask some questions. Video here.

  But Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, choosing who could ask questions, refused to call on Inner City Press, even for Ladsous to say, as he did under Dujarric's predecessor Martin Nesirky, "I don't respond to you, Mister."

  So Inner City Press objected, on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access (the old UNCA has become part of the problem) and asked questions, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I want to just object.  I’ve asked you 12 or more times about the CAR case in this room and I wanted to ask Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous.  So as you said, noted, but your predecessor Martin Nesirky used to at least ask the question, if he would deny it.  My question is as follows:  this morning or last night, a series of documents were released by AIDS Free World and Code Blue including, as one example, a 5 August 2014  e-mail from MINUSCA, the peacekeeping mission run by Mr. Ladsous, showing full knowledge of the sexual abuse allegations.  The question is:  if DPKO knew in August 2014, how is any of the statements about zero tolerance and acting on abuse correct?  And also I want to ask you about one other document before — there are a series of e-mails between Ms. [Carman] Lapointe, Ms. [Joan] Dubinsky, basically the entire supposed ethics structure here at the UN, including Ms. [Susana] Malcorra, about basically how to deal with Kompass.  None of these people went public ever with the sexual child abuse.

And what I’m wondering is, did the Secretary-General himself become aware of these discussions at Turin at the staff retreat which are all throughout these documents?

Spokesman Dujarric:  You know, we’ve seen the narrative put out by Code Blue today, which is obviously their own version of —

Inner City Press:  Their documents —

Spokesman:  —of a narrative.  They’ve put out what they claim to be documents.  I’m not going to go into comment on documents that may or may not be leaked, that may or may not be authentic.  I think Mr. Ladsous said himself that he only became aware of these issues in the spring.  There is an OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] investigation going on that will look — that will be pulling at the strings and looking at the process and how this — how this whole issue was handled.

Inner City Press:  Since it’s alleged that he asked Prince Zeid to get the whistle-blower fired in a meeting in the spring here in New York, could you ask Mr. Ladsous on what day he became aware of it and whether he discussed the firing of the whistle-blower with Prince Zeid as alleged in the documents --

Spokesman:  I think he said himself, in person, in front of a camera, denied making that—

Inner City Press:  That’s why I’ve asked—


Spokesman:  He’s denied—

Inner City Press:  What has he denied?

Spokesman:  He’s denied—


Calling for the firing of Mr. Kompass.

Inner City Press:  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I think all… I think no one is pleased how this whole case was handled, and it is being investigated and looked at and how it was handled.

Inner City Press:  Who is being investigated?  Is Mr. Ladsous being investigated?

Spokesman:  The whole issue is being investigated.

   But the documents also call into serious question the claims of "independence" from the office of Ban Ki-moon of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the UN Ethics Office.

  Consider this: OIOS head Carman Lapointe, writing to James Finness (still in charge of the "investigation" spokesman Stephane Dujarric continues to use as an excuse to not answer question), noted that at the UN staff retreat in March "I received an urgent email from the CdC [Ban's Chef de Cabinet Susana Malcorra] to meet with Zeid, Flavia and Joan."

  So OIOS is not independent - it can to told, by Ban's chief of staff, to meet with collaborate with the Ethics Office as well as OHCHR's Zeid and Pansieri.

 Inner City Press previously reported on and asked Dujarric about OIOS' flawed process and a high profile recusal, see below.

  Embarrassingly, Lapointe says for fully 20 minutes they were told the rapes occurred in Mali, not CAR -- the same mistake Zeid made. How can a mere OIOS investigation be accepted? We'll have more on this.

 As noted, Inner City Press reported on some of the documents and went to Ladsous' rare press conference on May 29 (International Day of UN Peacekeepers) in order to ask some questions.

  But Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, choosing who could ask questions, refused to call on Inner City Press, even for Ladsous to say, as he did under Dujarric's predecessor Martin Nesirky, "I don't respond to you, Mister."

So why did Nesirky allow Press questions to Ladsous, and Dujarric didn't?

  Dujarric set the first question aside for "UNCA" -- but called on an individual who was not elected to their board, who lost the election; her question was a vague softball offering Ladsous a chance to comment on Central African Republic. He said, it was one nation, not under blue helmet.

  But Ladsous' MINUSCA mission knew of the sexual abuse since at latest August 5, 2014. Inner City Press said, "Follow up on CAR?" Dujarric called on Reuters, which previously wrote to him trying to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN (then filed to get his leaked complaint blocked or Banned from Google's Search, here.) Reuters did not even aske about the CAR sexual abuse.

  What emerged is that both Ladsous -- and, troublingly, Ban Ki-moon -- were formally informed of the sexual abuse of children in CAR "in the spring."  What date? And what did they do?

  Dujarric said, "last question;" as Ladsous left the room Inner City Press asked Ladsous about him speaking about the whistleblower Kompass with OHCHR's Zeid, also a subject of the new documents -- no answer.

  Inner City Press objected to Dujarric, who has fielded or dodged a dozen Inner City Press questions about the CAR rapes and Ladsous' role, not even being allowed to ask a question. Dujarric said, "Noted." Video here.

 And what? Again, Dujarric's predecessor Nesirky, and his deputy Del Buey, allowed Inner City Press to put questions to Ladsous. What if the difference? We'll have more on this.

On July 30, 2014, Ambassador Nicolas Niemtchinow, Permanent Representative of France to the UN in Geneva wrote to
Kompass that action was being taken. But then, nothing.

 On August 5, 2014 the Human Rights Officer in CAR of OHCHR wrote to Renner Onana of the already-then UN mission MINUSCA; DPKO's SRSG Babacar Gaye was referenced.

   So when did Gaye or MINUSCA tell DPKO chief Ladsous?  We'll have more on this.

Tellingly, even the UN's cover up was delayed by High Commissioner Prince Zeid thinking he heard of French troops' sexual abuse in MINUSMA (Mali) and not MINUSCA (CAR).

  Zeid asked his predecessor Navi Pillay if she met with French representatives about rapes in Mali -- the answer was no -- then much later asked her if she'd met with the French about CAR (the answer was yes.)

  It was Zeid's Deputy Flavia Pansieri who conveyed Ladsous' directive to Kompass to resign. Zeid in his statement makes much of Pansieri meeting with a Swedish diplomat in the street, in casual clothes, after Sweden raised l'affaire Kompass at a dinner in honor of Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Jan Eliasson. THe UN's move now seems to be to try to lay all blame on Pansieri, whose term was expiring anyway. We'll have more on this.

   From Kompass' March 29, 2015 narrative, here:

"On 12 March 2015 meeting with the Deputy High Commissioner I was informed that the High Commissioner requested my resignation for the way I dealt with the reports of paedophilia in the Central African Republic. I was told that the High Commissioner had been asked for my resignation by Mr. Ladsous, Under Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, during a visit of the High Commissioner to New York."

  Ladsous curtly denied this to Inner City Press, video here, then again refused to answer questions -- as he has outright refused to answer Press questions on rapes in the DR Congo and Darfur.

   On May 27, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: On the Central African Republic, President [Catherine] Samba-Panza is in Paris, and she has said “We regret not being informed earlier that this investigation was taking place”, she told reporters after the meeting with the president.  So, I wanted to know, I… you… well, first of all, is there a UN response to that?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, obviously, as I said before, there is an internal look as to how all these allegations were handled from an administrative point of view, who knew what and when and that is being… what is being looked at.

Inner City Press:  Because that is… that's my second question.  I've heard from people in OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] that the terms of reference of the investigation that you've repeatedly referred to here are essentially Mr. [Andres] Kompass.  There's an OIOS investigation as to why Mr. Kompass gave an unredacted report to the French.  So, are the terms of reference to which you keep referring…?

Spokesman:  I've said what I said.  If I have more to say, I will share it with you

   We'll be waiting. Follow up stories in the New York Times and on AP managed to not mention Ladsous, despite Paragraph 9 of the UN Dispute Tribunal reinstatement order. On May 26, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: something on Yemen, but I wanted to ask you on that, to ask you specifically on this because, since the UN is mostly saying that Mr. [Anders] Kompass was suspended because he gave the names of witnesses and victims to the French Government, the statement by Ms. [Flavia] Pansieri says that the names in the report were fake ones, and there was no risk, therefore, for witnesses.  So, this… I understand there's an ongoing investigation, but this sort of goes to the heart of the apparent retaliation against the whistle-blower.  So, I'm wondering, is there no reaction to that?  And she also says that he felt that the mission, the then-UN mission in Bangui, MINUSCA, would not take any action.  And there's a New York Times report that says that the Mission there did not tell "his boss", UN peacekeeping here in this building.  So, there… outside of the investigation, can you get a clear yes or no whether the Mission in Bangui told DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], i.e., Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous, who then reappears in the UN Dispute Tribunal trying to get Kompass fired…

Spokesman:  On your last point, I think we've gone through this.  You're taking as fact one side of papers that were submitted.  I think Mr. Ladsous clearly denied the accusation that he called for Mr. Kompass to be fired.  As I said, there's an internal investigation which will look at how the whole UN system handled the issue, including the peacekeeping mission.  The report was handled through the human rights channel in Geneva, and I think it's important that all these reports of sexual abuse be handled properly through the right channel, in order to protect the victims and the witnesses.

Inner City Press:  But, just one thing.  If you're using the OIOS investigation as basically the response to all of these troubling things that come out, this seems to imply that the OIOS report, when finished, will be public, that there will be an answer to these questions at some point.

Spokesman:  I think very much… I think the OIOS reports are handled in the way they are handled, but we hope to be able to share, obviously, more information.  I think we also, very importantly, would want to learn from the way this issue was handled and to improve the way we handle these kinds of cases.

  Also otherwise unreported:
on the afternoon of May 18 some in the UN's Ban Ki-moon administration were summoned into the Fifth (Budget) Committee to answer questions, including about the investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services.

 Inner City Press, which reported exclusively on that meeting, on May 22 asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the probe, video here:

Inner City Press: ...Miranda Brown in Geneva, she was a WIPA whistleblower, then she worked with Mr. [Anders] Kompass in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Anyway, she was terminated yesterday, left service of the UN, the day before she was to be interviewed by OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] about the Kompass matter.  So she's put out a statement saying she believes in part she was fired because she has witnessed evidence on Kompass' matter.  She says he shouldn't have been suspended because there are… many countries have mandatory reporting of paedophilia charges.  This is what he she claims that he did.  And that the Government accountability project has asked the Secretary-General to reinstate her given if he's interested in getting to the bottom of the Kompass/Central African Republic sexual abuse allegations.

So I wanted to know, what is the response and what's the interrelation between firing somebody that's a witness in what's said to be a very important case for the UN?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  I wouldn't have any comments on the Kompass case while the information is proceeding.  We're going to allow it to continue to proceed.  And I wouldn't be able to comment at that point.

Regarding the case of… that you just mentioned, I believe Stéphane [Dujarric] commented on it just about a week or so ago.  I don't have anything to add to what Stéphane has said.

Inner City Press:  Do you still expect her to testify?  I've seen the request from OIOS for her to speak.  It seems like if you're firing her she's not going to speak.

Deputy Spokesman:  I would hope and expect if the Office for Internal Oversight Services needs some of this information for their investigation that it will be provided to them.

  But once terminated, there is no immunity. We'll have more on this.

Back on May 21 Inner City Press asked Haq:

Inner City Pres: I'd asked Gordon Brown about the alleged sexual abuse in Central African Republic, and he said there's a report.  So I wanted to ask you something.  Become aware that the OIOS's [Office of Internal Oversight Services] director Michael Stefanovic has informed the Secretary-General that he's recusing himself from the investigation.  A number of Member States have questions on this that they raised to Ms. [Carman] Lapointe, and I think that her response was, "Ask the Secretary-General."  So I'd like to know, can you confirm that the director of OIOS, Mr. Stefanovic, has recused himself?  And can you say why he recused himself?  Some say he — well, I'd just rather get your reasoning for it.  And some say it makes the reporting — how does it impact the report that apparently was what Mr. Brown was referring to as the UN's response to these events?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  I believe Mr. Brown was also referring to the fact that this is being investigated, the actual allegations — the substance of the allegations is being investigated by the French authorities.  That's where the investigation into the alleged crimes is taking place.  What this investigation is about is about the handling of documents, as you're aware.  And I wouldn't be able to comment on the [Office] of Internal Oversight Services' review of this and its own investigation until that process has concluded.  So at this stage, that process is continuing, and we'll have to wait for that process to be ended.

  Since the UN won't answer this basic question, Inner City Press now reports more. Absent from the UN Fifth (Budget) Committee's May 18 meeting was not only embattled Peacekeeping chief Ladsous,, but also OIOS' Carman Lapointe.

 In her stead for OIOS was Michael Stefanovic, who told the Fifth Committee that he has recused himself from the investigation and has written to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as to why.

  This is highly irregular. If the recusal was made on a personal connection between Stefanovic and the whistleblower Anders Kompass, Stefanovic would have recused himself from the earlier investigation - but he didn't. If it were such a recusal, he would have written to Lapointe, and not to the S-G.

   For now we add this -- if OIOS Director Stefanovic has a conflict of interest, how can the UN be asking others to rely on an OIOS investigation? Inner City Press has asked a Permanent Member of the Security Council -- not France -- if an OIOS investigation would be sufficient, and has been told "No."

 Now we have this, from the Fifth Committee's May 20 meeting:

Lapointe, summoned to the meeting via her Byun-kun Min, was asked

-When did OIOS/ID start the investigation into Anders Kompass?

-Why did Mr. Stefanovic recuse himself from the Kompass investigation?

-In view of Mr. Stefanovic recusing himself, did Ms. Lapointe see any impediments for the scope of the investigation, especially as it appeared to implicate an ASG or USG in misconduct?

  Note - this is a reference to UN Peacekeeping USG Ladsous.

 Multiple sources tell Inner City Press Lapointe replied that Stefanovic told only the Secretary General, not her, that he recused himself, and that the Deputy Director of OIOS in Vienna is now "overseeing" the investigation.

So those now on the case are James Finniss, Kanja and Margaret Gichanga -- who has been asking to interview WIPO whistleblower Miranda Brown, who worked alongside Kompass for a time. We'll have more on this. It is a new low for the UN.

Back on May 18, Inner City Press, staking out the Budget Committee meeting, spoke with Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra when she left the meeting. Here is a transcript, followed by an exclusive summary of what happened inside the closed meeting.

Inner City Press: How did it go in there? Are their questions answered?

CdC Malcorra: Well I hope, yes. Some of them still have questions that will be answered by my colleague. I think I’ve made a point of what it is that we’re discussing here. This investigation is a UN investigation. It was led by the UN in the field when they had allegations handed to them. It was the human rights cell in the mission that led this investigation. It looks like we were absent, but it was us...

And this investigation could, at least prima facie, there were places clear enough to further investigate by the member state. And as such, the information was provided to a member state. On a separate front, is how the information is provided. And we cannot accept the irresponsibility of the names of the victims, the witnesses and the investigators shared with the member states ... it’s inacceptable. It may look like a bureaucratic approach. It’s not a bureaucratic approach...

Inner City Press: What about not telling Central African Republic authorities?

CdC Malcora: They are discussing that now.

   After the meeting ended, and Inner City Press spoke with numerous attendees - a common refrain was that the UN leadership is "in denial" - we have pieced together this summary of the meeting, and the totally insufficient answer on UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous' role, a lack of recognition of his UNAMID mission's previous cover up of rapes in Tabit in Darfur, which the US and UK and other say they care about, and lack of follow up on whistleblowers.

Attendees' summary of Ban Ki-moon chief of staff Malcorra:

"Malcorra said she had no idea the session would go into the specifics of CAR, she thought it was to touch upon general Sexual Abuse and Exploitation policy (several attendees were dubious and angry about this approach.)

  Malcorra said that in the case of misconduct by UN staff the procedures were in place. In this case, even when it was not UN peacekeepers the human rights cell in Bangui was there and they were the ones that initiated the investigation. It is thanks to the UN that allegations were substantiated and it was enough to decide to proceed with a further investigation.

  The wrongdoing of the UN staffer Anders Kompass was to have shared the information without it being redacted putting the victims, witnesses and investigators lives in danger. She repeated many times this was a serious breach and that she disagreed with anyone that didn’t view this conduct wrong.

   According to Malcorra the UN investigation lasted three months which allowed them to substantiate the allegations.  When that finding was final it went to the two lines of command: The head of mission in CAR and the OHCHR.  But, several asked, why didn't either of these tell the CAR authorities?

Malcorra said she would have preferred this case hadn't surfaced in the media and that it is regrettable member states have had to learn matters from the press. But that, Malcorra said, member states have to be aware that the press manipulates everything. Several states talked about the UN image and credibility to which Malcorra said she was very sad with those comments because if not for the UN these troops could have gotten away with these disturbing acts. She also said this was a clear case of damned if you do damned if you don’t. But what about the cover up? What about Ladsous?

  Malcorra said that “no other element had been taken into account” for Kompass' firing. But member states were aware of Paragraph 9 of the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling reinstating Kompass. As noted, one Permanent Representatives (and several other diplomats) told Inner City Press that Ladsous should resign.

  Tellingly, the sources say, Malcorra claimed didn’t recall any UNAMID coverup allegations. Tabit?

   Malcorra didn’t even address the Otis report on whistleblowers - which Inner City Press has been asking Ban's spokesman about, repeatedly -- but assured member states that due protections are in place and that an adequate policy exists.

  Malcorra said she looks forward to working further on the UN convention in paragraph 57 of the SG report on SEA and agrees that there are systemic flaws, and therefore there will be a review of all the processes.

  According to sources in the meeting -- Inner City Press asked and was told to inquiry with member states -- the  Legal Counsel and head of OLA qualified as excellent the cooperation with the French Authorities and that the lifting of immunity so far hasn’t been necessary because at this stage its very general requests of information that the UN promptly has given to the French authorities. For the sake of efficiency hasn’t gone through the lifting of immunity process but if a trial or judge becomes involved they will do it quickly at a later stage. Several member states were dubious. The EU, Inner City ress is informed, said “accountability starts at the top.”

 Malcorra left unanswered why the host state, the CAR, was not involved. She is said to have ignored the specific question on the status of the OIOS investigation. She ignored the complaints about under-reporting saying that the trend of decrease was very clear and that the USG of DFS would go into details (what he did, genially, was repeat the Secretary General's report).

  An impartial investigation was called for, from both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere. There was a refrain afterward: Ladsous should resign."

  Herve Ladsous is conveniently out of town, on Mali over the weekend he chided Malians for not sufficiently thanking France for the French Operation Serval. Would he say the say in Bangui, about Operation Sangaris?

  A well-placed African Permanent Representative before the meeting told Inner City Press before the meeting that Ladsous should resign. But with him conveniently absent, would others be left holding the bag, trying to explain why he, Ladsous, appears in the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling as urging that the whistleblower resign?

  Back on May 8, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Samantha Power about both issues - the UN's failure to tell the CAR authorities, and Ladsous' "surprising" role, as High Commissioner Zeid put it earlier in the day. Video here and embedded below. Then Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, about the contradiction; for the first time, he gave a timeline. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: Iwant to ask you about these alleged rapes in the Central African Republic.  Prince Zeid [Ra’ad al-Hussein] held a press conference today.  Just as an aside, I would have liked to have seen it announced from here on this very topic.  And he said… he was asked directly about what I've been asking you about, the statement in the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling that the Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping asked the whistle-blower to resign.  And it was said, and this is why I want to ask you, because I know you said you don't agree with it, but this was a statement that was not contested at the time by the respondent.  So, this means that the UN… the people involved saw the claim and didn't have any problem with it.  I'm not saying that that means it's true.  When you say you don't agree with it, is that a personal position or a UN position?

Spokesman Dujarric:  I don't think I said I didn't agree with it.  I said you're taking it as fact.  It's his position.

Inner City Press:  Which the UN didn't disagree with.

Spokesman:  I'm just saying it's his position.

Inner City Press:  My question on this is, he said he'd like to say more, but would say it to some forthcoming, apparently, investigative commission.  Ambassador [Samantha] Power at the stakeout said the same thing, that all of this needs to be looked at independently.  So, what's the status of that?  Is the Secretariat having any role in that?

Spokesman Dujarric:  There's obviously the OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] inquiry going on into Mr. [Andres] Kompass and into everything related to that.  You know, I think the aim right now is to ensure accountability for the victims of these alleged rapes and horrendous abuse [that] these young children suffered at the hands the soldiers.  That's… that should be everyone's aim.  Obviously, there will come a time I think when we will need to take a look at how this issue was handled, but I will also add that there is obviously an internal investigation through OIOS and looking at Mr. Kompass.  At this point, I don't have anything to add.

Inner City Press:  The other thing… something you said yesterday was about this, there was no harm to the French investigation by not lifting immunity because they were written questions that were answered.  There's an article in Le Monde today that says that, yeah, written answers were provided seven months after the questions were proffered and was provided on 29 April, which just happened to be the date on which the exposé was first published.  I'm wondering… you can read Le Monde.  I can read it to you.  But, that's what they are saying, basically.

Spokesman:  You know, I think that there are different timelines going on here.  The prosecutor in Paris has his own timeline.  What I can tell you is that on 10 October, the Permanent Mission of France of the UN sent a note verbale to the Secretary-General, to the Office of Legal Counsel with a request from the… from a French judicial authority, a vice-prosecutor, confirming they had a hard copy of the report, which obviously had gone from Mr. Kompass, requesting for us to waive the immunity of the investigator, the OHCHR [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] investigator, who authored the report and allowed him to be interviewed.

Following consultations internally, which obviously involve the Mission in the Central African Republic, which involved OLA [Office of Legal Affairs], which involved UNICEF, which involved the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, we wrote back, saying that we will fully cooperate, that we are offering to send them a copy of the redacted report.  And again, here, I can't stress enough the importance of shielding the identities of the victims.  I mean, there are a number of countries in Europe, for example, where it is illegal to share the names of rape victims or of minors who have gone under child abuse, so I think that the issue of protecting the names of the witnesses and those who have been abused is primary.

We also told them that the chief investigator was right now serving in a post in Chile and will provide responses in writing to any questions put forward by French investigators.  We stressed that this cooperation was done on a voluntary basis without any prejudice to the issues of privileges and immunity. That was a letter that we wrote to the French authorities on 5 November.  On 6 February of 2015, we received a letter from the French mission transmitting, obviously, documents that had gone from their own judicial authorities, the written questionnaire and which was for the investigator and reiterating the request to lift the investigator's… the investigator's immunity.  That was on 6 February.

On 30 March, we reiterated our full cooperation to the French.  We provided them with a copy of the redacted report.  We transmitted to them the copies of her… the questions and answers, with the answers provided by the investigator.  We confirmed, yet again, that there was no need to lift immunity because this cooperation would be done on a voluntary basis without any prejudice to the investigation… to our immunities.  I think it serves to remind people… you know, the issue of immunity, I think, is one that is not always fully grasped by those that don't cover the UN on a regular basis.  The UN lifts the immunities of its staff members in a number of cases when they need to testify in front of judges, in front of courts.  We do that.  The immunity is not there to stand in the way of justice being served.  At this point, if there's no need to lift the immunity, it's not lifted.  If there is a need to lift the immunity to provide testimony before a judge or a court in a legal proceeding, it is studied.  It is very often done.

So, I think we're looking at different timelines.  I think different bureaucracies have different timelines.  I've given you ours.  The prosecutor clearly has his or her own; I don't know the gender of the prosecutor.  That's where we are.

Inner City Press:  Just one follow-up.  I appreciate that.  This will be the… there's one date you didn't mention there, which is 12 March 2015, in which the whistle-blower was summoned in and told to resign.  He said and was uncontested by High Commissioner of the Office of Human Rights at the request of the Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping.  So, my question is, what was the problem… I understand everything about protecting witnesses.  If the information presumably is provided to prosecutors, like there are rules against it, but it's not illegal for one investigative authority to share the information that could bring about a prosecution with that prosecuting authorities; what's the problem with that?

Spokesman:  I think, again, on Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous, I think he spoke to it… he spoke to it at the stakeout.  I've said what I've had to say about Mr. Kompass's allegations.  I think the High Commissioner spoke at length and eloquently this morning, so I have nothing to add.  I think it is vital for the work of the human rights organs of this Organization that, when people give us testimony with the understanding that it will be kept confidential, that it is in fact kept confidential.  I think the High Commissioner said clearly that the investigative responsibility, the criminal investigative responsibility, is in this case with the French soldiers with the French authorities.  It is with national authorities.

The human rights mechanisms in this organization conduct a lot of commissions of inquiry.  We have ones going on on Syria, on the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], to name just two.  People give us testimonies with the understanding that we will be… we will guarantee that this… their names will be kept confidential.  I think that is exactly the issue here, is that when people give us testimony with the understanding that it be kept confidential, we have a responsibility to keep that confidential.  The handling of Mr. Kompass' case administratively, what was said, what was done is being reviewed internally.

  Here is the video of Inner City Press questions to US Ambassador Power:

From the US Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: One issue that has arisen that may not even need to wait for an investigation is that the Central African Republic says that they were never told of this, and given that these were their citizens, I wonder if you—does the U.S. think that when the UN system becomes aware of charges such as these, that the host country should be told? There’s also this issue, in the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling, that the Under Secretary General of Peacekeeping was reported, and the UN didn’t seem to dispute it, to have said that the whistleblower should resign or be suspended. And I wonder, this seems like a pretty serious charge. What do you think of that? Do you think that that is appropriate? What do you think of the treatment of the whistleblower who brought it to light?
Ambassador Power: "I think, on a lot of these issues, we’re all going to be better off if we allow an impartial investigation to take hold. And, I think, you raise a really, really important issue about host country involvement, and we’d want to, again, get the facts on that. Certainly, it is the case that the host country itself, of course, has the sovereign responsibility for the protection of its citizens, and so, looking at what role Central African Republic authorities played or didn’t play has to be part of this.
"And then, in terms of the individual who disclosed the allegations, who worked for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, again, it’s extremely important that any individual who comes into possession of allegations of this gravity acts swiftly. It is also extremely important that victim and witness safety be a very significant, a primary consideration as well. And so again, the impartial investigation will look at the handling and how both the issue of speed and the issue of victim and witness protection—how those issues were handled."

  It is an answer that may move things forward. Ladsous, it should be noted, just this week snubbed a Joe Biden-linked Hemispheric peacekeeping conference in Uruguay, wasting an $8,000 first class plane ticket and angering many troop contributing countries. He refuses to answer Press question, for example on rapes in Minova, DRC and Tabit in Darfur.

   As noted, on May 8, High Commissioner Zeid held a press conference, and twice refused to comment on why Ladsous was said to have pressured to fire or suspend the whistleblower.

  Inner City Press has covered Ladsous' role from the beginning, and highlighted his appearance in Paragraph 9 of the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling reinstating Kompass. On May 7, Ladsous told Inner City Press, "I deny that" - then refused to take questions.

 Zeid was asked, and first time said he should first give his view of the pressure to the investigator, not the media.

 The second time, he said he was surprised to read it -- his Office did not contest that part of the ruling, effectively admitting it -- and that the head of UN Peacekeeping should not have been intervening about a non-UN force.  Video here.

 Neither he nor the questioners in the room in Geneva said the obvious: Ladsous is a longtime French diplomat; it is not rocket science to read Paragraph 9 as him (inappropriately) still working for "his" country.

 Zeid said other things we'll report later; he alluded to the need for a Commission of Inquiry. Some ask, will Ladsous quit before then? Or after?

 For more than nine months, no action was taken -- no interviews of victims or alleged perpetrators were done -- other than the UN suspending Kompass for the leak, on which the UN Dispute Tribunal ruling recites that UN Peacekeeping chief Ladsous requested Kompass' resignation. (See Paragraph 9, here.) Ladsous told Inner City Press he denies it - then refused questions.

  Early on May 8, UN system staff complained to Inner City Press that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid of Jordan, in a closed staff meeting on May 8, tried to downplay the scandal, going so far as to blame imams in Bangui for not playing their role.

  But it was OHCHR which didn't even give the report of the rape of CAR children to CAR authorities, only to the French.

  In places, Zeid appeared to try to use his record ten years ago on sexual abuse to shift the blame to imams.  Inner City Press has shown a failure by his Office to act on past leaking, to Morocco. We'll have more on this.

  On May 7, Inner City Press asked more questions about this - including to Herve Ladsous himself.

  After a long closed-door consultation meeting of the Security Council, Ladsous emerged. Inner City Press asked him, based on Paragraph 9 of the UNDT ruling, Why did you ask Kompass to resign?"

  Ladsous stopped and said, "I deny that." Inner City Press put the handheld video online, here.


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